This is an extract version of the full article taken from Vanguard – Winter 2020 edition. Vanguard is our bi-annual magazine exclusively for Serendipity Connect members. Visit our Connect Membership page for more information on how to be a part of our community
Interestingly as Covid-19 and Lockdown hit us all back in March, I went into natural survival mode. I saw the whole pandemic as a sign and a moment for personal change. Little did I know how many levels of change would happen both personally and professionally!
On a practical level, I was set for a very industrious and rewarding 2020, with some fantastic projects and creative commissions. Like everyone, the loss of all my creative contracts, international work and theatre productions, imminent and foreseeable future were cancelled immediately. That’s when you kick into another mind-set and serious decision making.
In regard to my company, BOP Jazz Theatre UK, we had to close down for the interim too. This effected the company as we were set to perform from June through to November 2020, so an opportunity lost to make the Jazz Art form more visible to the mainstream.
However, many positive outcomes have come from the lockdown and in truth the positives outweigh the negatives. I realised the negatives I could not do anything about, so I focussed on the positives.
When you live a creative life, the world does not stop or you do not allow it stop! You continue to rise up and meet the challenges. You find ways to create, reinvent and empower a world that can work for you and hopefully for those around you.
With my BOP Company, we stayed connected weekly via Zoom Chats (thank goodness for zoom). It was very important to me as the director to keep everyone engaged and communicating. This allowed the company members to share in a safe place, how they were feeling and also laugh about life and the situation.
Very quickly you find new ways of working and sharing creatively. Much of my educational work, open classes and creative projects, residencies, judging competition and creative collaborations continued, transferring from the studio and live situation to the new online and digital world.
I made the most of all the possibilities of keeping my Jazz classes available to my company dancers and the dance community. Instagram became a platform to share globally my open Jazz dance classes and Company warm-up program. I also made use of new apps that offered a chance to provide a platform to update our BOP Creative Shop to facilitate Download purchasing our BOP Jazz Dance Exercise Program and my Instagram classes, which I recorded, saved and made available to download.
It was very successful as a way to stay connected to the dance community and served both myself as a practitioner and the global dance community who were able to continue taking class with me, be it online or digitally.
Being creative in the Digital form was a new addition to my creative work life. There are however positives and negatives to this. For me there is nothing like the Live experience, be that on stage or in the studio, particularly for those of us in the arts, performance and education. However, finding the digital tool was something that grew out of necessity during lockdown as a vehicle to potentially continue to present ourselves and offer creativity in a new way. It has certainly made the arts and artists more accessible, but I hope we are not lost to just the digital experience. My wish is that Digital and Live arts they can sit alongside and complement each other, but more that we can get back to the Live creative and theatre experience as soon as is possible. ·
I believe wholeheartedly, the situation we found ourselves in during most 2020, with Covid19, two Lockdowns and the scars of BLM, has given us all a very tangible and hard hitting moment in time to reflect, reset and restart. I’ve been reminded by the whole global spin, that the changes we want in our lives must first start with ourselves and I believe the world will be in a better place if we all take responsibility and accountability for our part in that change. We can only go forward and hopefully learn from the past.
My final hope is this, I hope that everyone will be accepted and treated fairly, the performing arts landscape will offer and support more diversity and inclusivity, that the meaning of equality and respect is not for some but for everyone and that through our art endeavours whatever form that comes in, we share a true reflection of ourselves that encompasses and connects everyone, bringing us all closer together as a human race.
As part of LDIF+, on Saturday 19 June, Dollie Henry is presenting LDIF+ Masterclass with Dollie Henry followed by the livestreamed performance Spirit of Jazz by BOP Jazz Theatre Company.
Dollie has led a respected career of over 39 years as a performer, choreographer, director, creative Jazz artist and educator and is recognised as one of the most formidable exponents of artistic and creative Jazz theatre dance in the UK, Europe and internationally. She has shared her passion and philosophy of creative dance in every continent of the world, with a reputation that is widely revered and respected.
Dollie started dancing at the age of four and went on to professionally train at Laine Theatre Arts (UK) receiving her teaching qualifications with ISTD for Ballet, Modern and Tap, her LAMDA Drama Certificates (Bronze-Gold Medals) and was awarded ‘Most Outstanding Student’ in performance and choreography. At 17, she was invited to join The Olivier Briac Dance Company based in France as soloist dancer, later becoming resident choreographer/assistant director for the Briac Company. Returning to England at 19, Dollie was invited by director & choreographer Dougie Squires to join his company The Second Generation for TV work in the UK and Europe, numerous dance/musical productions, leading imminently to her position as Assistant to Mr. Squires over a further 3 years.